Richard Kelly, writer-director of superlative cult hit Donnie Darko and sprawling mess Southland Tales, is once again at no loss for ambition.

Richard Kelly, writer-director of superlative cult hit Donnie Darko and sprawling mess Southland Tales, is once again at no loss for ambition.

His adaptation of a Richard Matheson short story, about a married couple (Cameron Diaz and James Marsden) who's offered financial freedom through remote assassination by an extraordinarily disfigured gentleman (Frank Langella), deals with no less than the ultimate moral judgment - albeit in the form of a shiny red button.

That ambition is part of what got Kelly noticed in the first place, along with an interesting eye for casting and an aesthetic verve that's still riveting to behold. Yet with The Box, as in Southland, he's stretched his ideas too thin and let them drag on too long, leading into a climax that strains against the boundaries of coherence. Still, he earns points for effort.